Tag Archives: loss

Memory Eternal

by Lillian Csernica on February 21, 2018


I know what it’s like to bury a child.

I lost my son James at 18 weeks when I ruptured early.

The first time I ever identified myself as a mother was when I signed the paperwork for my baby’s funeral arrangements. I’d never seen a coffin that small. Up to that point in my life, I’d never had reason to think about one or realize such a thing existed.

The day of the funeral, I stood there and had to see my baby wrapped in what would have been his first blanket, lying there in his little white satin-lined coffin. I had to stand there and watch while the priests chanted the funeral service and that little white coffin was lowered into that hole in the ground and I had to deal with knowing I’d never see my little boy grow up.

To the parents of all the children who have died in school shootings, I say I cannot imagine how much greater is the pain you’re being forced to suffer now. I never had the chance to get to know James, to see him smile or hear him laugh. You knew your sons and daughters. You watched them grow into fine young men and women with hopes and dreams for their futures.

Futures cut short by a tragedy that should not have been allowed to occur.

I know the agony I’ve had to live with, the tears I’ve shed every time I’ve visited my baby’s grave. I am so terribly sorry that all of you have been forced to experience the torment of such grief.

I promise you, I will do more than send you my thoughts and prayers. I will VOTE. I will MARCH. I will make phone calls and I will sign petitions. I will join the crowds chanting, “NEVER AGAIN!” until my throat is raw and my shirt is soaked with tears.

We must see to it that other children do not die. That other parents do not suffer the grief that you and I must endure. The children of this nation are our children. We must see to it they are safe.



Filed under Depression, Family, family tradition, love, mother, parenting

Time To Say Goodbye

by Lillian Csernica on December 8, 2016


One of my favorite people is dying.

He and I have been friends for about eight years now. We’ve been in two different writers’ groups together. He writes nonfiction, a memoir of his Navy days. We’ve gone out to brunch together a number of times, and we have a few treasured in-jokes.

It’s very hard to see him and know these are his last days.

As soon as I heard he was in the hospital, I hurried over there yesterday. Fortunately, my friend was awake and aware, so we had a brief conversation. His brother and his four children were on hand, so I didn’t stay long. After I left my friend’s hospital room, I found a private corner and sat there crying for a while.

Today I stopped by the hospital. My friend’s wife and one of their sons were about to take him home. It’s time for hospice care. I don’t know how I managed to keep it together until I got out to the parking lot.

I wanted to write all kinds of profound things here about my friend, his life, and our time together. Yesterday I was in shock. Today I’m so sad.

I love you, Art. For however many days you have left, and for every day after that.



Filed under Family, Fiction, frustration, hospital, Lillian Csernica, memoirs, perspective, worry, Writing

There are No Happy Endings

by Lillian Csernica on March 5, 2015

I’m talking about real life.  For me, endings, stoppages, goodbyes, farewells, and leavetakings are all matters for sorrow.

I am really bad at saying goodbye.

Why is that?  Is it because I can’t stand the sense of loss that comes with the departure of a person or animal?  I’m not talking death, I’m just talking no longer a part of my personal life.  That is certainly one form of grief.  When you’ve had to cope with several losses and departures in a short time frame, you start getting very sensitive about just the prospect of one more.  Back when I left 5th grade, we moved that summer and I ended up in an entirely new junior high, away from all the classmates with whom I’d just spent what amounted to the first five years of my life.  My neighbors were gone, their pets were gone, all the landmarks and those little details that had become important just to me because I lived for such a long time in that same neighborhood.

Am I afraid of people leaving because of the more traumatic losses I’ve dealt with?  My parents divorced when I was eleven years old.  I hadn’t seen much of my father on a daily basis because he worked the graveyard shift and slept by day.  Once my parents divorced, my father had to go into rehab for his alcoholism, which meant I didn’t see him at all for months.  Then the whole visitation mess finally got settled, and I started spending every other weekend with Daddy.  This kind of inconsistency can really mess with your head when you’re only eleven.

I’ve lost a best friend to a misunderstanding that should never have happened.  I’ve lost boyfriends to distance and rivals and boredom.  I’ve lost pets to time and illness and predators.  I lost an entire stage of my life once I got married.  Sure, I gained a new stage, but the transition was more than a little nerve-wracking.

Even temporary goodbyes upset me.  When I say goodbye to Michael and John before I leave for a convention, there’s always that faint anxiety in the back of my mind about whether or not I will in fact return to them.  Ours is a world of growing uncertainties.  Accidents happen.  Deliberate mayhem happens.  And sometimes life just goes sideways.  I once promised John that I would always come back.  So far, so good.  I have always come back from every day trip, every weekend away, and even from as far away as Japan.  I have to be careful around John.  If he sees me wearing shoes on the weekend or wearing one of my outdoor cardigans inside the house, he will ask me where I’m going.  He gets nervous, because for him the future is an abstract concept.  It isn’t real to him.  Before my last trip to RadCon, I showed John the dates on the calendar, when I’d be leaving and when I’d be coming home.  That made it real for him.  I also called home twice and talked to him.  I know what this anxiety is like, so I do what I can to help John.

I’m one of those people who gets bummed out when the movie is over and I have to leave the theater.  I love movies.  Sometimes it’s hard to make the transition back to reality, to the daylight world.  Florence King writes about this in her memoir Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady.  She calls it “the other.”  She understands what it’s like to develop relationships with people who exist only in the imagination, some of them in the movies, some of them in books.  It’s hard to see the credits roll or to reach those endpapers and close the book.  I believe that’s one reason people are so committed to writing and reading novel series these days.  You get so invested in the lives of these fictional people that you don’t want the story to end.  That’s one of the factors that gave rise to fan fiction.

It’s March, and I’m never at my best during March.  March 15th is the anniversary of my father’s death.  Mary 17th is St. Patrick’s Day, which has a number of peculiar associations for me.  This month in the U.S. we experience the torment that is Daylight Saving Time.  “Spring ahead, Fall back.”  We lose an hour this month.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have an hour to spare.


Filed under autism, cats, Conventions, Depression, Family, fantasy, Fiction, Goals, Japan, marriage, Special needs, Writing